The Wrath & The Dawn
by Renee Ahdieh
Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.
She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.
I was absolutely shocked when I realized that this book wasn’t quite the pile of crap I was bracing myself for. Despite hearing nothing good about it, I decided to follow through with reading it. I love 1,001 Arabian Nights and I was terrified that this book would ruin all that, which in some ways it did, but in many ways it didn’t.
It was interesting because it wasn’t just a retelling of 1,001 Arabian Nights, it was also reminiscent of Beauty and The Beast. It was an interesting approach, not just because of this but also because it ventured to answer why the King committed such heinous acts. I appreciated what it was trying to do even if I had my issues with it.
One issue I had was how Ahdieh approached the whole plot of 1,001 Arabian Nights was the execution of Shazi’s stories. It was difficult because I couldn’t help but think, I am reading this whole story in less than five minutes and yet an entire night has supposedly gone by in the book? I get that I wouldn’t want to read a whole 8+ hour long story in the middle of the frame story, but something about the logic of it all bothered me.
Speaking of logic issues, it was a bit hard to believe that Shazi almost completely changed her mind about Khalid when she started off with so much hatred. However, I am a firm supporter of Shazi+Khalid. I thought they were very cute together and their feelings for eachother weren’t a sudden as people had told me. You see some of Shazi’s confliction in her thoughts and the reasons behind them in the time leading up to her complete change of mind/feelings. Maybe all that could have been a little bit better executed, but it wasn’t terrible in my opinion, but that was because of how I read/interpreted it. Like most things in this business, this is highly subjective.
The only real issue I had with any of the characters was the fact that by the end of the book Shazi wasn’t the strong, fierce woman I’d grown to love. Sure she had her moments, but then she turned into a sniveling mess! I get that she was hurt (emotionally) but she was so dramatic and her pain was so drawn out and she handled it in such a weepy helpless way, it got old fast and didn’t fit her earlier personality/character. I did love almost all of the characters the rest of the time though. Jalal and Despina were my absolute favorite! So much sass and charisma! It was fantastic!
I’ll be honest I hated all the sections from Tariq’s point of view. I didn’t like him and his part in the love triangle at all and all the early sections involving him seemed like such a drag in comparison to the rest of what was going on. I don’t really know what it was in particular about those sections that I didn’t like, but I deeply detested it nonetheless.
I both loved the writing, but it also bothered me some for the very same reasons I loved it. Crazy, I know. Ahdieh’s writing was impressively rich and filled with descriptive language and imagery. It was the definition of lush and at first, striking. However, there were times as the tale went on that it felt like Ahdieh was trying way too hard with it all, and there were other times when I felt like there was just SO much going on and being described that I couldn’t take it all in like I wanted to. For the most part though, I really did enjoy the writing.
The plot was fairly well done. It was getting really intricate and intense towards the end and it had some really cool twists that I didn’t see coming. However, I have to admit I was EXTREMELY confused by the last (roughly) two pages. I even reread it because I was so confused about what had happened in between Shazi’s POV and Khalid’s POV at the very end. It didn’t make any more sense to me the second time around. So if you read this book and you understood please email me and explain it all (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’m begging you. I want to understand so badly.
Last Words: Despite the logic flaws that abound in this tale it was rich and ripe with culture, magic, and mystery. It you let the strong and feisty characters, clever plot twists and poetic romance sweep you away, any leaps in logic or holes in the plot seem meaningless. It’s a book readers either love or hate, with no in between, so I can’t say I’d recommend really. All I can say is if it sounds good to you, read it, if it sounds terrible, then don’t read it. I just ask that if you choose to try it, you try it with an open mind, otherwise there is no way you’ll enjoy it. I give it a tumultuous three out of five stars.